Abuse Policies

More than half of the bishops’ conferences in the Americas, Europe and Asia complied with a Vatican mandate to draw up anti-abuse guidelines by a May deadline, said the Vatican’s top investigator of sexual abuse by clerics, Msgr. Charles Scicluna of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The compliance of African conferences was less satisfactory, possibly because of poor communications infrastructure. Msgr. Scicluna said in an interview with Italian media that those who did not send in their proposed guidelines would be getting “a letter of reminder.” Evaluating each country’s proposed policies will take “at least a year,” he said. Bishops’ conferences have been encouraged to develop “effective, quick, articulated, complete and decisive plans for the protection of children,” bringing perpetrators to justice and assisting victims. More than 4,000 cases of sexual abuse have been reported to the doctrinal office in the past decade. Those cases revealed that an exclusively canonical response to the crisis had been inadequate and that a multifaceted and more proactive approach by all bishops and religious orders was needed, said the former prefect of the congregation, Cardinal William J. Levada of the United States.

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